EDITOR: | January 30th, 2015 | 13 Comments

Lifton on the online commentator culture

| January 30, 2015 | 13 Comments

Jack-Lifton-TMSIn American Common Law courts it is the practice to define “experts” on technical matters as “persons who know more than the ordinary person about the subject matter at hand.” This is the type of tradition known as precedent.

While attending evening law school in Los Angeles and then Detroit in the late 1960s to very early 1970s I started a business that I called Forensic Science and Engineering Associates, Inc., in Detroit. Michigan law requires that if the term “engineering” is in a business name then that business must have a Registered Professional Engineer ( a P.E.) as a principal. So I partnered with a law school classmate who was then the Chief Engineer of the Wayne County Pollution Control District. He as a chemical engineer. My third original partner was a mechanical engineer who later himself went to law school.

The purpose of my telling you this story is to point out that over the next few years I myself was asked to review and to testify in nearly 100 civil suits involving a fire, a chemical spill, or a chemical/metallurgical issue. I also was the administrator and rainmaker for my little firm.

I learned that the most difficult hurdle for an expert is to become qualified as such before the court. Every time I was called to testify the opposing counsel would belittle my qualifications and ridicule my experience as a matter of course. At first I was so annoyed that I would sometimes get angry. This was exactly what the opposing counsel wanted. After a show of anger the opposing counsel could be sure that he could attack my attitude rather than my testimony. The value of testimony in any law suit is based first and foremost on the credibility of the witness and then and only then on his/her recitation of the facts, or, in the case of an expert only, the recitation of an opinion.

I was never once disqualified as an expert, because I chose to testify only on subjects I knew well from education and experience. I would study the facts of each accident or product failure and try to pre-determine the line of questioning that I would take if I were examining or cross-examining me on the subject at hand.

I was subjected to scathing attacks on my credibility and expertise by expert litigators. But I cannot remember a single time where blistering attacks on the witness stand weren’t followed when the case ended or was settled by an “atta boy” from opposing counsel. I frequently acquired new clients who had met me working for their opponent in court. “Nothing personal” was always whispered to me in the court room.

Now I can get to my point. I am a commentator upon and analyst of the natural resources space. I review junior mining ventures for InvestorIntel and the InvestorIntelReport. I am an expert in the extraction, separation, purification, fabrication and the end-uses of technology metals and materials.

Some of InvestorIntel’s readers have significant experience in the same areas that I do; some have more experience in one or more aspects of junior mining than I do; but none of the readers has my breadth of experience in technology metals and materials as used in the real world.

I appreciate comments, and when hard data is proffered in those comments I examine it carefully. I am a firm believer in the scientific method, which means that I believe a proposition until evidence of an appropriate kind is introduced to refute it. If you want to refute an argument of mine or disagree with a conclusion of mine then you need to present evidence of an appropriate kind.

Name calling and intimation that my opinions are affected by my client’s wishes rather than the facts are not worth challenging. I do not know all of the facts about anything, but when I write about a company, a process, or a material I hold that I know more than the reader does, or he wouldn’t be and shouldn’t be reading my commentary.

I do not “hang” on the computer waiting to count comment totals; I work for a living in the natural resource production and use industries. I choose my clients because I think they have the highest probability of going into production and making a profit. If your sole interest is a quick profit I suggest bank robbery. The risk of being caught may be less than the risk of losing your money in many of the junior technology mining ventures that I review for institutional investors.

I cannot respond to every comment and when they involve any form of ad hominem or other imputation of dishonesty I quite frankly just ignore then entirely.

Thank you for reading my work. I do very much appreciate that and I really appreciate your constructive commentary.


Jack Lifton is the CEO of Jack Lifton, LLC and is a consultant, author, and lecturer on the market fundamentals of technology metals. “Technology metals” ... <Read more about Jack Lifton>

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  • Joe o

    Attaboy jack. Lol
    Reading you taking tons of crap, especially from the GW crowd, does make me wonder at times why would u even bother.
    But I enjoy reading your columns and look forward to more. Hopefully tas. Ucore and Trer can make some headway this yr

    January 30, 2015 - 1:51 PM

  • Daniel

    The concept of Expert testimony has always been a double edge sword. Those who do not have the hard evidence rely on Expert testimony and hire experts to counter the experts.
    The one principle of law and concept of Justice requires two opposing point of views for a court to hold session. A lawyer would be a fool to represent themselves under cross examination.
    You should look after your health Jack and not blow a gasket.

    January 30, 2015 - 2:58 PM

  • hackenzac

    Daniel is not a lawyer but he does play one on the internet. He’s not a doctor either.

    January 30, 2015 - 3:06 PM

  • Springtrader

    So, when Tracy said, “Jack has an excellent commentary for Friday on the “great debate” on Christopher’s update on GWMG…..,” this is what we get? Thanks a bunch, Jack.

    January 30, 2015 - 3:22 PM

  • Lid

    I believe that most people respect you as an expert, also it is true that most people question your position/motivation of your opinion. We believe that true professionals should lay out the fact about a company, project, or such and leave the decision making to the readers themselves. if experts try to lead people to believe something, that always end up messy. for example, you, as an expert, recently highly prized a PFS from a company with inflated price deck, I commented about it, ask you to explain why the inflated price is used. you did not explain, instead, you commented in another article and you believed the management team wassmarter and they should use inflated price deck. why should not many people question your motivation? I believe that “Based on the fact we have in our hand, we estimated the project should be viable” should be consider as FS, and I also believe that “Based on what we wish, we guess the project might be OK” should be considered junk. When you highly prized the 2nd one, possibly you should forgive people throwing tomato and eggs at you, shouldn’t you?

    January 30, 2015 - 4:59 PM

  • Fixed

    I do not know all of the facts about anything, but when I write about a company, a process, or a material I hold that I know more than the reader does, or he wouldn’t be and shouldn’t be reading my commentary. Fair enough willing to give you the benifet of the doubt. That being said, “hate that phrase” when you comment on a company and the company you comment on has much more going on than you know how can you be sure what you say is correct. How do you absolutlley know that the reader maybe a metallurgist and someone who has more experience than you in bringing a mine into actual production… again somebody who has done it. Have you ever brought a mine into production and are you a metallurgist? Are you a CEO of a want to be jr ree company? Your commentary always seems to be one sided and would love to see you go one on one with another “expert” who may know more about the company then you. So keep up the interesting debate but just bring in the other “actual experts” who know more about what you are writing about. Until then you will continue to deal with the “ordinary reader” who will continue to question every thing you say. For instance if Marc Levier was to read then post a comment you make on GWMG I would be more than happy to concide any given point you may be correct on but until then…Sorry…

    January 30, 2015 - 5:01 PM

  • Fixed

    Hey if I am wrong I will admit it but only after I am proven wrong which you can not prove at this time. If you can than prove it. I personally do not like your views on GWMG so I will continue to disagree with you. I have that right as in the right to disagre with you the “expert” again prove what you say then I will agree. TRER Ucore and the others you hold so dear to me have a long way to go to get to where GWMG is as of today. Just my opinion of course but prove me wrong. Could and will go on till the day any of your or my picks actually produce something. When will that be? Time will tell…yes I believe that time will tell. Would also like to know if you have any personal grievances with Marc Levier?

    January 30, 2015 - 5:21 PM

  • Fixed

    So Tracy had said that there would be a piece that would be put out on GWMG titled The great debate and it would be today written by Chris E. and had already been commented on by Jack Lifton so question is.WHERE’S THE BEEF?https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R6_eWWfNB54

    January 30, 2015 - 6:01 PM

  • Daves

    I am and I don’t think that anyone here is questioning your knowledge and experience in the industry and I am sure you are fine fellow. Where you lose your credibility however is in your disclaimer which states that you are connected to and financially benefiting from a few REE junior companies. If you were an expert witness in a court of law and the opposing council identified a bias such as this, the impact of your testimony would be greatly reduced or completely disregarded by the court. You can proclaim all you want that that is not the way you operate but there is no difference between an actual and a percieved conflict of interest. The perseption is that no one is going to publicly say anything negative about the companies that pay them so inversely any negative comment are reserved for companies that do not. At one time you were a huge GWG supporter proclaiming that you owned shares and that it was a high grade and it was “right sized”. The size and the grade of the SKK deposit hasn’t changed so what has? I realize that the previous management made some mistakes (the ones you promoted) and there is now some financial issues now but you could say that all juniors have financial issues.

    January 30, 2015 - 6:29 PM

  • Fixed

    Tracy WesloskyTracy Weslosky on January 28, 2015 at 11:00 AM said:
    It’s been awhile since I have seen you comment MotherEarth, welcome home…;-)

    Marc has been extended an invitation, even though he is no longer an InvestorIntel member as our audience is indeed interested. I have not heard back from him, but then I have not dialled his cell and made more aggressive efforts. You are the catalyst for me opening up my rolodex, and BTW, Jack has an excellent commentary for Friday on the “great debate” on Christopher’s update on GWMG…..

    Reply….. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l7udCXqTGFg

    January 30, 2015 - 6:33 PM

  • Fixed

    Wish you the bet Motherearth why Tracy has not posted what she said she would?… Makes you wonder. Good to hear from you…Keep up the posts…

    January 30, 2015 - 6:46 PM

  • Jim


    Although I am not interested in junior mining ventures
    I have followed you since you joined Tracy’s band of
    gurus. I rarely read a reply.

    My focus is on large companies – MCP and Lynas.
    Where/who can provide the kind of facts that you provide
    on juniors?



    January 31, 2015 - 12:52 PM

  • Fixed

    I see you have traveled the world and know much more about the rare earth sector than the “ordinary” reader. That being said have you ever or recently visited South Africa’s Mintek?… If not maybe you should and give us “ordinary” readers you opinion on this…Rare Earth Element Extraction Plant
    MINTEK’S HYDROMETALLURGY DIVISION is involved in a number of rare earth element processing projects. In addition, they are also developing a sustainable flow sheet for a centralised processing facility.
    According to Dr Leon Kruger, Manager at the Hydrometallurgy division, Mintek holds a unique position within the rare earths sphere, providing services across the entire R&D spectrum, from mineralogy through to metal. As far as I am aware, no other research institute can offer the full range of services for this niche sector. We also have strong modelling capabilities across the entire process and are registered to acquire, possess, use, transport, import and export radio-active material which is critical when dealing with rare earths, which in many instances contain thorium and uranium.
    No other R&D facility can offer the same capabilities as our recently commissioned REE Extraction pilot plant. Mintek’s REE solvent extraction plant, built for the fractionation of the REE groups and the isolation of individual REE clearly demonstrates Mintek’s ability to process rare earths from beginning to end, with minimal operational expenditure.
    It is evident that rare earth element capabilities at Mintek are becoming increasingly recognised, locally and internationally. Since the 1970’s, Mintek has been involved in almost every REE project in Africa, providing a variety of testing and verification services to multiple

    February 5, 2015 - 6:16 PM

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